Writing for a Broad Readership

This blog, contrary to all “good advice,” continues to remain dedicated to old fashioned values of living life fully, deliberately and usefully, to creating value and encouraging people to think about the principles on which we base our actions, and to making positive changes to the world inside and outside us. However, that does not mean that this blog is indifferent to the way the blogosphere works, the niceties, protocols and the competitiveness of the world of bloggers, blogs and their readers. A poor workman is he who does not respect and understand his tools. Studies reveal that one out of every five visitors will not continue to read the next paragraph. Let me tell you why.


There are two broad blogging theories to explain why YOU are still reading this. The first reason is that you are a writer or a blogger and are trying to improve on your skills and understand how to blog. The second is that you do not fit the profile of the average blog reader who cannot comprehend complex writing and has to be fed sentences that are less than 100 characters long including spaces. The third possible reason is that you are enjoying what you are reading, and will likely feel better about life after you are done. Congratulations, whatever your reason is.

In this post, I will share a few things that I have learned (I am a real slow learner, and it takes me even longer to share that learning) about how to blog about stuff that you don’t mind writing while making sure it is what people want to read. This post will largely not be of interest to those who are not actively involved with blogs or blogging.


For the contemporary blogger, blogging is a tool for changing things. Whether it is a business blog aimed at creating value for a brand or bring people closer to making a purchase, or whether it is a blog that tries to inform and enlighten people about issues and trends, every blog has a clear cut objective. At the heart of fulfilling this objective lies the ability to write in an attractive and useful manner for a broad and generalized readership.


When I set out writing in this blog itself many years back, I had little idea of how to blog and how blogs work. I would write the way one keeps a journal. I would detail things I did, places I went to, meals we cooked and the like, more to keep a record of things for myself.

As I went on to study the world of blogging and the dynamics behind it, I learned to make subtle changes to attract a growing readership. This was still when I would blog as and when I found time and inspiration. I was still writing about my personal feelings and opinions, most of which were of interest only to people who knew me personally and/or were curious to what lengths my insanity would take me. My returning readers were still largely either my friends and family or those who hated me enough to stay up to date with what I was doing. Studies reveal that two out of every five visitors will not continue to read the next paragraph.

Then came the time when I began devoting a significant chunk of my time to writing for this blog, studying blogging, and trying to improve on what I had been putting out. In the process, I realized that to the thousands of readers who came to my blog from various sources, my personal life, or my feelings about things had no intrinsic value. As I studied the readership pattern, I realized that some posts attracted more views than others, and that some posts led people to exit from the blog while others led them to click through to other pages on the blog. I slowly began understanding the way my readers were responding to the different things that I was doing on this blog. Studies reveal that three out of every five visitors will not continue to read the next paragraph. Which is why I saved my lessons for now, since I wanted to share it only with those who have the tenacity to make it past this point. The majority do not, and it is something you should feel proud of. Here are the lessons I learned about writing for a broad readership. 

1. Study what readers want to read about
Knowing what readers look for on the internet will help you build your articles around their needs. Once you have got them to visit your blog or your article, it is up to you how you retain them to participate in what you have in store for them. One way to know about what readers want to read about is to use the Google Adwords Keywords Tool. While this tool is primarily to help you determine how to invest in keywords, it also gives you insight into how popular certain topics are. By choosing topics that are more popular, you increase your chances of attracting readers. Of course, the more popular a keyword or topic is, the greater the competition for it. This information is also available on the Keywords tool. If you choose a topic which is highly searched for but low on competition, your post will appear more prominently in searches.

 2. Study what the trending topics are in your neck of the woods
The internet is a rapidly evolving medium. As society undergoes change and as events develop, certain topics tend to become trends. Keep abreast of topics that are trending by using tools such as Google Trends or  Google Insight. It is not essential that you have to write specifically on that topic, but you can build your post up by referencing that topic or using it to illustrate some point that you are trying to make in your post. I do not write about popular cinema, but when I found that Shah Rukh Khan was going to use Google Hangout for a video chat with his fans, I wrote two paragraphs about it on the day it was to happen, since I had a post idea building up in my head about another feature of Google Plus, called Sparks. So I wrote the post, building it around the Shah Rukh Khan news. Before I knew it, the topic was trending, and my post which was more about the technology and features of Google Plus, was picking up more traffic than any of my other posts. all of it from search. A good day for Shah Rukh, but not for me.



3. Write to create value for your reader
People who visit your blog look for a payoff. It can be in the form of information that they were in need of, affirmation of their views and beliefs, or a new perspective on things. Writing for a broader readership implies that the majority of your readers should feel they have profited in some way from the time they spent on your page. Some of the ways you can do this is by writing posts that tell you how to do certain things, posts that pull together information from a variety of sources, and posts that help your readers to take decisions, such as reviews and commentaries. The internet is also an important tool for social re-engineering, as people form significant aspects of their philosophies based on inputs they receive from their social networks. If you strongly believe in something, use your writing to reach out to your readers to help them clarify their own views about life. The reader who leaves your page feeling dissatisfied is unlikely to come back to your site again, and you would not only have lost a reader but an opportunity to make a positive difference to his or her life on an ongoing basis. 

4. Review your blog stats
I have learned a lot about blogging by studying my own blog stats. I prefer to use Google Analytics instead of the stats that the blogger dashboard shows, since Analytics tends to weed out the fake traffic as well as gives insights into various parameters. Reviewing your stats will show you which of your articles attract the highest number of readers, where they come from, and how much time they spend on your page. You will also know which posts encourage your visitors to click on to other pages in your site, and which ones end up having them leave your blog. Knowing which of your posts attracts the highest quality of readership will help you determine the kind of articles that people want to read. Knowing where your readership comes from, not just geographically but also from referral sources, will help you write posts most suited to that traffic source. As you study your stats, you will understand what works and what doesn’t.

5. Stand apart from the crowd
The blog world is choc-a-block with sites that put out a wide variety of content, but with much of it really being a rehash of stuff found elsewhere. Blog tutorials will tell you the same thing over and over. It is very tempting to follow a tried and tested method, and turn out me-too content. While this will definitely get you traffic, it is unlikely to build up a dedicated readership. A blog needs to have a balance between returning visitors and new visitors. If there is nothing in your content to distinguish it from the millions of blogs out there, you will not be remembered by your readers. One of the common errors is to latch on to a successful niche and mindlessly churn out content. Another common practice that speaks poorly of your blog, especially to other bloggers, is to apply every single hack put out in the thousands of how to blog better tutorials out there on the net. It ends up making your blog look amateurish, and perhaps meant to be read only by retards.


The trick of growing a blog is to write posts that will please your regular readers as well as attract new visitors through search and referrals. Writing to reach a broad and diverse readership is a challenge, but challenges are fun when you meet them on your own terms. I have listed out some of the ways that you can do this. As you experiment, you will find many more. Not every visitor to your blog will be looking for a Malthusian exposition, but that does not mean you have to write for the profile of the average internet user. Write what you believe in, what you enjoy, and then wrap it in shiny paper so that it attracts new traffic. Studies reveal that nobody will continue to read the next paragraph since it doesn’t exist, but that an occasional nutcase will click on the read more link below. If you have made it till here, please leave your name and address behind in the comments so that I can courier my “personally autographed” gift hamper to you.


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46 comments:

  1. Thats quite a comprehensive analysis from the readers point of view.
    One thing, i would like to add, (being a blogger myself) is satisfying the readers necessity need not necessarily satisfy the writer's passion.

    A Blogger/ Writer may want to express views in a particular fashion, his/her way of presentation may not meet the readers requirement, so does it mean the writer compromises here?

    My single Question is: Should Bloggers have "Readers Need" at the top of their mind b4 their commence a post?

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  2. @growing teenager
    Good to see you here!

    @Viyoma
    I would not call writing to cater to readers a compromise. For blogs that are primarily about information about products or news or technology, I think the objective of the writer is to meet the needs of the readers first. The problem arises with blogs that are more subjective in nature, where you are commenting from your perspective on things that are important to you.
    In such instances, it is important to balance your views with the need of the reader to find value in what they are reading. As a writer first and a blogger second, I feel the prime focus of each post should be to create value for the reader. Some ways of doing this are by tempering opposing views, providing personal disclaimers so that readers who do not agree do not feel offended, and structuring your post in a way that draws readers subconsciously towards your point of view.
    At the end of the day, if your readers do not feel that their time spent on your post has been of use, you have failed in your task as a blogger, though perhaps not as a writer.
    James Joyce, Kafka, Salinger are names that come to mind when I think of writers who were not appreciated by their readers because they wrote keeping their own sensibilities foremost. Yet their work has stood the test of time.

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  3. Subho, I've been reading all your posts diligently, and made it to the end of this post...so, I'm one of the 2 out of 5 readers who stayed to read your entire post! Obviously, I fit into the 'interested' category, and wants to learn more about successful blogging.

    You are a survivor Subho (you know why I say that)...glad to see you blogging successfully.

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  4. Great, thoughtful and helpful list... helpful because of google insights... I saw that go by awhile ago with no clue what it was. Thanks,

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  5. Great work Subho! Very informative and helping guidelines indeed...the amount of work you've done for us:) Thanks a lot!

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  6. I read through till the end. So I get a hamper? On a serious note all blogging tips miss out important segment - the entertainment blogger. Everyone is focused on influencing and informing. What about the artists who just create fiction and poetry for the love of it? I am actually wondering if blog is a correct platform for such folks at all.

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  7. @Anne Wayman - Welcome to SJD. Thanks for your kind words, and really happy that you liked this post. Google insights lets you look up most searched for keywords, and lets you filter it by date range, region, and category. I have found it really useful, and am happy to have sent it your way.

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  8. Hi

    That post had a lot of things I have not seen in many of the other 'How to bring more readers' posts before. Thanks for the list and I did read till the end :)

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  9. @Shanthz - Congratulations. I look at average time on this page on my analytics and I know that you are a winner. And, yes, this post too is a survivor post. Thanks for your encouragement too, Shantha. The hamper is in the mail.

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  10. @Amit - Almost all that I have learned about blogging has been through the work of fellow bloggers like you. My thankfulness towards you all is hard to put into words. All I am doing is paying it forward to those who are still searching.

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  11. @TheFool - I see a lot of "entertainment" blogs out there, and many of them are wildly popular, for example, a certain Lucifer House Inc.. I do not see how one can come up with a content oriented blogging tips post for such blogs really. It would be like telling an artist or a poet how to paint or write a poem.

    It is possible that your comment will motivate someone to come up with blogging tips for the poetry, fiction, photograph, painting kind of blogs. Thanks a lot for taking time out to leave your thoughts behind. As promised, a small autographed packet (10.4 Kb) is headed in the direction of your IP address even as you read this. You will know you have received it as your computer starts doing strange things. Gratitude speaks in myriad tongues!!

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  12. Stayed the course, Subhorup! Interesting write-up! I am more like that I write what moves me at that point in time and the wares are out for who wants to take it up type. Of course, I want more readers but doing all that you say sounds too much like work to me:):)

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  13. Google Analytics? Never tried that yet! Thanks to your post. :)I loved the way you began your blog.. Will leave all who read it thinking as to which section do they fall into. :)

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  14. Very well written and being new to blogging world I liked the way handled this!

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  15. Very well Analyzed and thought of. But shouldn't there be a limit to which the writer gives importance to readers? Shouldn't the main importance be given to what the user wants to write about? I Think there should be a balance between the two

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  16. Hey this is a great post--actually a very useful one for me:) Your previous post on blogging was also useful.
    But as Ashwini mentions, shouldn't there be a balance between the reader and writer? I find the trend too often pulled by reader interests. But I believe it is by writing quality stuff and pushing the reader's boundaries that I am doing any service. Finally, I, the writer have to be at ease with what I wrote. But yes, maybe one should not be narcissistic and convert to a personal dairy--yes that is a hard one to break!

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  17. Excellent tips! Starting with the first one and trying to implement them one by one, and by the time we come to the last one n take a look at our blog and the results, I am sure, there would be some dramatic changes.....
    Good work you have done by analyzing the ways.
    Thanks for a great article, Shubhorup!

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  18. you usually don't reply back to all the comments but still let me write, again.

    now, i am really confused about the whole blogging thing :D. would really love to know what blogging is all about. is it writing whatever comes to your mind, the way you can or is it writing to attract an audience? i write for my visitors, as simple as that, and i don't analyze anything. i do have a post on that in my d drive.

    p.s. - most of us, fall under the category of average reader and we cannot comprehend complex writing.

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  19. @Rahulbhai and @Sakshiji - Thanks for your encouraging words. After Debajyoti's reminder, I need to make greater efforts to be more interactive, so please do keep coming back and leaving comments, so that I can reply to them.

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  20. @C.Suresh - First off, I am a big fan of your writing, well, most of the time. I wish I could write the way you do, and this is in earnest. I kind of agree with the too much work aspect, but then it all depends on what your goals are. If you are happy building up a small and dedicated readership that comes back for what you share as a writer, a creative writer, then this work is perhaps work. I belong to a generation that straddles the preinternet and internet era, and I feel that when I am writing on the internet, it makes sense to capitalize on the global nature of the web. and for that, some work helps. If you have been reading my writing, you know that the context of my writing is entirely Indian; yet only 30% of my readership is from India, with another 30% coming from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This makes me wonder if there isn't something more I can do to appeal to a broader readership. Thanks for your comment. It is a strange feeling when someone whose writing I try to emulate comes and leaves a comment.

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  21. @Haritha - you will love the things that you can learn about traffic to your blog from analytics. once you have got a hang of the basics, you must try out the custom reports, where you can create your own filters and parameters.

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  22. @Panchalibolchi - I have only recently discovered your work and find it very uplifting. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. There are countless such tips out there on the web, these are five that I have found effective and applicable, especially to those who blog out of a personal compulsion, without motives of gain, and who are not too familiar with the ways of the web. Glad you liked the post.

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  23. @Deb - So there!!

    PS: Most Indian bloggers use complex writing. In the google search tools, you will find a filter for reading level. Try it sometime with one of your top keywords, you will find that bulk of your stuff will be in the advanced or intermediate levels. That is how it is with most Indian writers. Of course, sometimes people write such weird stuff that no matter how hard you try you cannot figure it out. I did that for a few years, but then later I myself could not figure out what I meant, so I dropped it.

    PPS: You write complex too, with quick transitions and introduction of ideas, and long parentheticals. And I love working my way through your posts.

    PPPS: So there, again.

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  24. @Bhavana and @Ashwini - I not only agree with the need for balance, but will go one step further and say that for writers who write because they have to, like some of us, it is probably more important to turn a blind eye to readership. Like I keep reminding myself, greats like Joyce and Jibanananda never built any significant readership in their lifetimes, but look at them now.

    What I do feel is that with a little attention to the "ways of the web." it might be possible to reach a much larger audience, and IT IS possible to do that without compromising on the style, content or purpose of writing. This is possible only on the internet, and primarily due to the technology and logic behind searches, page authority and the transiency of web traffic. My point is why lose out.

    As frequent readers, you might have noticed that I sometimes pick up topics that are not in sync with my overall objective, but if you read between the lines, you will find that I say the same things in a post about writing a killer resume as I do in a post on How to green our inner environments. It would have been clever of me to link that previous sentence to the respective posts, wouldn't it? And that precisely is my point. I do so appreciate the dialog you initiate.

    Can you do something about that Debajyoti chap though? Some Harry Potter spell of some such...

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  25. Thanks for sharing such useful tips :)
    sometimes it is difficult to understand how to retain our readers ..either by our post or what content we r going to type in .....few days back someone suggested me to change my Blog Theme which is dark background and not reader friendly and if i change it may increase the count of readers ..Blog Theme m still in the search of eye catching theme ...:-)

    And ur tips r very helpful indeed!

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    1. Formatting your blog template for ease of reading is a very important aspect of acknowledging your readers, Jasmeet. You wouldn't keep your home cluttered if you knew guests were coming. People keep talking about search engine optimization, but I think the real trick is to optimize your blog for your readership. Glad you found the tips useful, Jasmeet.

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  26. i read your post ....so thas makes me one of the 2..(2 of 5)...very well written....great tips..esp.for someone like me ...who's relatively new in blogosphere.
    joined up through the gfc.....am following you:)

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    1. Thanks for the GFC follow. With Reader no longer there, and some of the newer RSS readers not reading GFC, it remains a challenge area for all of us. Very happy that this post was useful for you. And, hey, we are all newbies here, each day teaches us something.

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  27. What a mine of information in this post-thanks...i just went & checked keyword tools-never knew this existed..frankly i just blog to give information which i hope will lift someone's spirits;never thought as to how i can attract more traffic,though of course it will further my objective...i shall try to be more high-tech,but it is so much of added labor-no? anyhow thanks a lot for taking so much of trouble for informing newbees like me.

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    1. Thanks, Indu. And may I invite all who are perusing this comment thread to check out Indu's amazing blog!!

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  28. Hmm..quite an informative blog,though implementing it is a great task..I m just a newbie trying my hand and my best to write things I like.But thanks a lot.

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    1. Thanks, Anki. It is essential that you stick to doing what you like. That is the real secret of success, not just in blogging, but in all aspects of life. All the best to you.

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  29. Very informative post. However I feel that there should be a balance between the reader's needs and a writer's urge to express. Again it depends upon what kind of blogger one is. For full-time bloggers of cource reader's needs are of utmost importance.

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    1. Agree totally with you, Ashwini. The question of balance is important. You might want to stick to what you as a writer wish to express, firm in the belief that in time, it will find its place. But how do you ensure that time does come to pass? One way is to write stuff they will want to read. :)

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  30. I got to the very end of it. :) A very useful post indeed; but then again, --as you rightly say -- only for those who really want to do better at blogging.

    I could use some of the points you have up here. I'll be coming back to this post. I should be saying thank you. So thank you :)

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    1. Congratulations!! It surprises me every time. Glad you liked it.

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  31. A big thanks for this post. I implemented one thing today and will work on the other points as well. May be, I will ask for your help, if you won't mind.

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  32. Thanks for a very useful post with great tips..

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  33. Absolutely love this post. Though for my personal blog i do not care about the readership. i would like to increase the readership on my Fashion and lifestyle entries. I am already trying to stay relevant and informative as much as possible. And have seen a significant increase. will now start using the other things too. Thanks

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  34. Useful information shared.Yes, I knew almost all these infos..except I never tried Google Trends...great that your post shoot off with Shah Rukh Khan hangouts..arr,I must try this one :)

    And Gift hamper..well Nice idea but how many of them will be ready to leave the address behind in the public comments :(

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  35. I'm sorry but I do not agree with you on most of its parts. You argue for creating what the readers want.The way they want. You can not keep those readers with you once you go back to what you really are. If you make it as only as an initial strategy to make readership,later when you become successful,the memory may haunt you.
    But I strongly agree with you on the point about the quality of posts.

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  36. These five points should be useful for the blogging enthusiasts. It always feels great to satisfy the needs of the readers, doesn't it?????

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  37. These five points should be useful for the blogging enthusiasts. It always feels great to satisfy the needs of the readers, doesn't it?????

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  38. Frankly, I blog by instinct :). I don't follow any set formula. Your tips are good. I find points 3,4 and 5 to be of particular value. Though, I'd say that if you want readership, what I've seen many bloggers do is go and comment on loads of blogs :). That is one sure shot way of getting comments, not necessarily readers.

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  39. A very educative post for a rookie wannabe blogger like me. After reading this I am starting to get a feeling that I want to know who reads my blog posts.

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